(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

INDIAN CASTE.                                                    415
in the third or fourth generation, after alliances with older families have given
some colour to the pretension. And the illegitimate sons of Thaknrs, who by
the Code of Mann would be Ugras—their mothers being Musalraanis or low-
caste Hindii women—are, as is notorious, generally accepted, either themselves
or in the person of their immediate descendants, as genuine Ihakurs. Again,
many of the higher Thakur classes acknowledge the impurity of their birth ia
the popular tradition of their origin. Thus the Chandels (i.e., the moon-born)
profess to be derived from the daughter of a Banaras Brahman, who had an in-
trigue with the moon-god ; and Gahlots (the cave-born) from a B&ni of Mewar,
who took refuge with some mountaineers on the Mslya range.
From all this it follows that, whatever the dignity and antiquity of some
particular Thakur families, the Thakur caste is a heterogeneous body, which,
like the miscellaneous communities of lower pretensions which we have already
discussed, is held together more by similarity of circumstances than unity of
origin. The same principle of caste-formation is still actively at work through
all grades of Indian society. The comparatively modern organization of many
so-called castes is attested by the Persian names which they have thought pro-
per to assume,—for example, the Dams, the Mallahs? the Mimars, &c. A
large proportion of the first-named are really Kayaths, which shows that the
term & Darzi* is still in a transitional state, and has not yet thoroughly shaken
off its original trade meaning. The older word for a tailor is atf/i, which, like
so much of the Hindi vocabulary, having become unfashionable, now implies a
workman of an inferior description. Similarly, randi^ * a woman/ has become
a term of reproach for c a woman of bad character*; and nagara, Hindi for
* a city,' is used at the present day to denote, not even a village, but only a mere
* hamlet.'   The desire to dignify a mean calling by a high-sounding name—as
when a sweeper is called mihtar^ ( a prince/ and a cook Mtalifa—has been often
.cited as an Oriental idiosyncracy, which to the mind of a European is produc-
tive of ridicule rather than respect.   It gives occasion, however, to many a new
caste-name.   Thus the khakrol, or street-sweeper of the town, regards himself
under the Persian designation as the superior of the village bJiangi or scavenger ;
and the Miraar, or bricklayer, the Shoragar, or saltpetre manufacturer; the
Chuna-paz, or lime-burner ; the Kori, or weaver, and even the Moehi or cobbler,
in assuming the name descriptive of his calling, almost forgets that he belongs
to the universally-despised caste of the Chamar.
To judge from the Census Returns, it would seem that these partially-
developed castes are only recognized in some few districts and totally ignored